Sugar-Salem students go untested on SAT day

(UPDATED, 11:00 a.m., with reference to BYU-Idaho’s admissions webpage, which shows that the university accepts both ACT and SAT scores, and at 1:20 p.m., with response from Sugar-Salem superintendent Alan Dunn.)

SUGAR CITY — Sixteen Sugar-Salem High School juniors walked into neighboring South Fremont High School to take their SATs Tuesday morning.

An hour later, they walked out — after learning that their tests never arrived.

The mixup occurred after a counselor at Sugar-Salem High School, who forgot to register his school as an SAT testing site earlier this year, arranged for the 16 students to take the exam at South Fremont High School in neighboring St. Anthony.

Sugar-Salem superintendent Alan Dunn

But those arrangements came just two weeks before testing day and didn’t provide enough time for Sugar-Salem’s SATs to be processed and delivered to South Fremont High School, according to local test coordinators.

“There’s no question — two weeks was just too short of notice,” said South Fremont High School counselor Steve Huber.

Huber said his school was happy to accommodate the 16 extra kids, but learned Tuesday morning that their tests hadn’t yet arrived via UPS.

Huber checked the shipment online and learned that the tests were scheduled for delivery Tuesday afternoon. But Sugar-Salem High Principal Jay Miller had already ordered the 16 kids to be bussed back to Sugar City.

“I didn’t want the students to just sit there with nothing to do for hours,” Miller said.

Sugar-Salem School District Superintendent Alan Dunn acknowledged the mistake, and blamed it on the loss of a counselor in the middle of the school year. A newer, less-experienced counselor forgot to register the school as a testing site, Dunn said.

As a result, the district will bus the 16 juniors back to South Fremont High School to make up the test on April 25.

Like last year, only a small portion of Sugar-Salem juniors signed up to take the SAT. Most students in the rural Eastern Idaho school district opt instead for the ACT — required by nearby BYU-Idaho, Dunn said, the most common destination for college-bound Sugar-Salem students.

But BYU-Idaho’s admissions webpage shows that the university accepts both SAT and ACT scores from perspective students.

When asked about the fact that BYU-Idaho accepts scores from either entrance exam, Dunn said: “I am not sure why, but our people like to give the ACT more than the SAT and since funding is there for it we continue to do it.”

Dunn said his district doesn’t push kids to take either test, but provides both for free.

Most Sugar-Salem juniors took the ACT at their own school last month — a service the district pays for through a federal GEAR UP grant designed to encourage high school graduates to continue their education.

Thousands of high school juniors across Idaho took the SAT college placement exam Tuesday, with the state picking up the tab.

The State Department of Education has sponsored the $1 million SAT Day initiative for six years in an attempt to encourage more students to go on to college.

Every high school student needs to take a college-placement exam, either the ACT or SAT, in order to graduate.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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